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1979: Crisis Creates Opportunity

A cooling system malfunction led to a partial meltdown at Three Mile Island on March 28, 1979.

A cooling system malfunction led to a partial meltdown at Three Mile Island on March 28, 1979.

In the aftermath of the March 1979 meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant, the Department of Energy (DOE) asks a team of historians to document its response to the crisis.  Faced with an unusual task, DOE historians Richard Hewlett and Jack Holl enlist the help of history professors Philip L. Cantelon and Robert C. Williams. The team produces a document that charts the history of the crisis and informs future agency policy. The experience prompts a series of intriguing questions. How else could history be applied outside of the academy? What other clients could historians serve? Hewlett, Cantelon, and Williams, joined by visiting DOE scholar Rodney Carlisle, decide to explore this uncharted but promising territory by forming a historical services firm.

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